Article published the Sunday 01 January 2012 - Latest update : Sunday 01 January 2012

French weekly magazines review

By Brian Eads

It's that time of year again when - like the Dailies - the Weeklies look back on the old year and forward to the new.

"After the Arab Spring - the hardest part is to come," suggests L'Express.

The magazine wonders whether, in a year of revolutions in the Arab world, Islam serves as a brake on modernisation and invites the thoughts of distinguished commentators.

The conclusion, says one, is that - a subversive thought is needed - a devastating investigation into Islam's theological heritage, which is a pile of comments on comments sanctified through time.

This, he says, would open a new era and the Arab spring reinforces this possibility. But, the slogans of demonstrators - dignity, freedom, democracy and social justice - should not be diverted. And young people must be vigilant and discrete.

Also exploring the fall-out from the Arab Spring, Le Nouvel Observateur is concerned that Libya after Kadhafi might become a fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaida.

According to the CNN news network, it has recruited some 200 men since May.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

One al-Qaida militant with European and Libyan passports has been arrested on his way to Libya, in either Pakistan or Afghanistan.

However, the Nouvel Obs quotes reassuring words from an anonymous US official who says : "It is far too early to say that al-Qaida is firmly established in Libya." The organisation "has a long way to go to win the hearts of the Libyans."

Le Point, in its on-line edition, has a discrete box illustrated with a drawing of Marianne - a national emblem of France and an allegory of Liberty and Reason - inside which is a digital clock offering a live count-down to next year's Presidential election.

The last time I looked it was 127 days, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 46 seconds. Very odd.

Inside is a massive collection of articles, enough to satisfy even the most addicted political junkie. Particularly refreshing is the news that 85 per cent of young people have registered to vote. Clearly, democracy is alive and kicking here in France.

Curiously, the cover of Paris Match is devoted to the late, lamented Hollywood movie star Marylin Monroe, describing her as "The Sex Bomb - who hid a sensitive intelligence." Perhaps all the living celebrities have gone skiing.

Gala - a rival magazine - is more up to date with a cover picture of footballer David Beckham and his wife Victoria, looking very à la mode and strolling hand in hand.

The speculation is that Beckham will soon join Paris St. Germain. If he does, Gala says, the Beckhams will live like Princes with a private house - rare enough in the French capital - VIP schools for their kids and a lavish lifestyle.

Marianne - the magazine not the emblematic maiden - tackles more serious fare what it calls "The Railway Mess."

Rising prices. Trains late or cancelled. Break-downs. Crowded carriages. Altered timetables and longer journeys. Exasperated passengers. The railway network that used to be the nation's pride is about to implode !

The magazine devotes fifteen pages of solid, first-hand reporting to the issue which affects an enormous number of French people. Needless to say, there is no quick and inexpensive fix.

But, as one expects in a country where people are not slow to complain, disgruntled rail passengers are organizing and pushing hard for the restoration of France railways to their former glory. Good luck !

Finally, an intriguing feature in Le Figaro Magazine wishes its readers a Happy End of the World !

It seems that according to some interpretations, a calendar drawn during the ancient, lost Mayan civilisation in Mexico and Central America, predicts that the world or perhaps the entire Universe will end roughly one year from now.

To be slightly more exact, on either the 12th or the 21st of December two-thousand-and-twelve. Not everyone agrees. But it is ever thus with arcane texts and inscriptions.

Some say the Apocalypse has already happened on the 28th of October last year. In which case, I can't say I noticed.

Le Figaro Magazine reports that the notion is proving hugely popular, not least thanks to the Hollywood blockbuster, 2012, a disaster movie that made reference to the mysterious Mayan calendar. And incidentally, grossed around 600 million euros worldwide.

Enthusiasts of Armageddon have searched for confirmation elsewhere in the mythology of the Sioux and the Hopi Indians, in coded messages concealed in the Bible, in the Chinese classic of divination - the I Ching - and among recently interpreted writings from of the long-gone Sumerian civilisation.

One possibility is that the Earth will collide with the planet NIBIRU, which some scholars say is due in our neighbourhood in 2012. Its long, elliptical orbit last 3,600 years.

But, the US Space Agency, NASA, is said to have detected the planet almost twenty years ago.

One things is clear says Le Figaro Magazine: "Science will continue to advance in 2012, even if the imagination of men has no intention of retreating. For better or worse."

Will we all be here this time next year ? Stay tuned to Paris Live. We'll keep you informed.

tags: Al Qaida - Arab Spring - Football - France - French politics - French presidential election 2012 - French press review - Islam - Libya - Press review
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